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UNLV football:

Rebels linebacker: ‘It’s on us’ after Rebels trip themselves up in loss at Utah State

UNLV leaves valuable points on the board in 35-13 defeat and can’t overcome the same mistakes of bad penalties and poor pass defense


Associated Press

Utah State wide receiver Chuck Jacobs (10) pulls away from UNLV defensive backs Peni Vea (42) and Tajh Hasson (29) on his way to a touchdown in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, in Logan, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

UNLV vs. Utah State

Utah State linebacker Jake Doughty, left, and other Utah State players tackle UNLV running back Tim Cornett (35) for a safety in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, in Logan, Utah. Utah State  defeated UNLV  35-13.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) Launch slideshow »

LOGAN, Utah — The Vegas kid provided the knockout, but it was the kids playing for Las Vegas who delivered all the body blows leading up to it.

UNLV hurt itself with the same old routine — untimely penalties and bad coverage against the pass — but this time there was a new twist. Twice in the third quarter the Rebels had the ball inside the five-yard line and twice they came away with field goals. Replace those, or even just one of them, with a touchdown and maybe things play out differently. You never know how the game will go, but missed points against a good team have a way of sneaking back up on you.

“We left a lot of points out there,” quarterback Nick Sherry said. “We didn’t finish.”

Once the fourth quarter hit the Aggies (4-1) turned on the jets and left the Rebels (1-4) grasping at air on screen passes and trying to figure out how it got out of hand so quickly in a 35-13 loss at Romney Stadium.

Utah State, with some substantial credit due to UNLV’s defense, left the door open with a lackluster third quarter. In fact, no team has scored on UNLV in the third quarter this season. The problem is the Rebels often don’t do anything with it. On Saturday they simply didn’t do enough.

UNLV forced and recovered a fumble on the first play of the second half and two plays later the offense was at the five. From there running back Tim Cornett, who finished with a season-low 36 yards, lost two on a stretch run to the right. An incompletion later and the Rebels kicked a field goal and trailed 20-10.

On UNLV’s next two defensive drives they got an interception and forced a three-and-out, giving the offense more chances to make something happen. Sherry led the team down to the four, where on the 15th play of the drive he appeared to dive into the end zone on fourth down before fumbling. The play was whistled dead for a false start on a wide receiver, and UNLV again trotted out the field-goal unit to pull within 20-13.

Three plays later Valley grad Kerwynn Williams, a senior running back at Utah State, was streaking down the sideline for a 74-yard score off a screen pass. UNLV worked hard and grinded the entire third quarter just to come away with six points. Williams equaled that in one play.

“The past two years we needed every play to win a game like this. Now we don’t,” UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said. “We can compete, but we can’t have them have more explosive plays (than us) like we did tonight.”

Williams’ play opened the floodgates and clued the Aggies in to a gaping hole in UNLV’s defense. On their next drive quarterback Chuckie Keeton dumped off another screen pass to Joe Hill, who took it 65 yards and set up what would eventually be Keeton’s fourth touchdown pass. The sophomore finished 20-of-33 passing for 402 yards.

Williams finished with 113 yards on 20 carries and 147 yards, including the touchdown, on seven catches. It was the most receiving yards by a non-receiver at Utah State since 1959.

Williams’ touchdown was on third and nine. Hill’s big gain was on third and seven. A stop on the first one keeps it at seven; a stop on the second gives the Rebels hope with a 14-point deficit and good field position. Neither happened because of a simple play the Rebels and Hauck say they prepared for.

“You look at the score you probably think they ran right through us, but it comes down to certain plays,” said linebacker Tim Hasson, who led the team with eight tackles. “We didn’t give our offense a chance tonight.”

Two weeks ago it was the Rebels’ secondary getting exploited by simple post patterns against Washington State. Stopping the screen, Hauck said, is dependent on the guys up front reading the play and stuffing it before it gets going. He took the blame for not coaching it well enough, though he wasn’t the one out there missing tackles.

The Rebels actually held the Aggies scoreless in the first quarter and kept the opening 30 minutes kind of ugly, which played in their favor. But those third quarter field goals weren’t the only missed opportunities, and if you watched the game it may be surprising to learn UNLV only committed five penalties. That’s because they seemed to come at the worst times. The false start inside the five was a killer, as was senior offensive guard Doug Zismann's blatant personal foul for shoving an Aggie after a play near the end of the second quarter.

UNLV had a chance to pull within three and the worst-case scenario should have been that it came away with no points and went into halftime trailing 17-7. But Zismann’s penalty knocked the Rebels back to the 35 and Sherry was intercepted on the next play, a throw he probably thought was a free play but turned out to be another penalty on UNLV.

With 31 seconds on the clock Keeton led the Aggies down the field, thanks largely to a 45-yard completion to Williams, and Utah State got a field goal for a 20-7 halftime lead.

“It’s a game of four or five plays,” said Hauck, whose team needs to figure out a way to be on the other side of those plays.

Hauck is willing to take the blame and plenty of people are lined up ready to bury him in it. Hasson isn’t among that group. A junior who played at Cimarron, he sees that unlike his previous years this team is capable of stealing some games. The problem is the execution on game day, not the preparation leading up to it.

“If we’re not shooting ourselves in the foot, who knows what our record would be?” Hasson said. “You can’t blame it on the coaches. As players, we’ve got to make the plays. You can’t look at the coaches and say, ‘Oh, the coaches gotta go’ or ‘It’s the coaches’ fault.’ ”

“We’re the ones out there. It’s on us.”

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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  1. Where are all the Hauck apologists today? Oh that's right, they're afraid to post because they're afraid to get the "I told you so" from the more educated posters on here. Air Force win was a fluke. I told you so.

  2. @bobthebuilder - Amen!

  3. What, I'm supposed to post "fire Hauck Right Now!" As if we really thought UNLV was supposed to win this one? All I know is if Utah State Offensive Coordinator were head coach, the Rebels would probably have lost by 50 points. Rebels competed for 3 quarters,but just don't know how to make big plays consistently and their secondary is a big liability-that will improve over time. But I guess next week will hear "I told you so" because they did not pull off the huge upset of Louisiana Tech.

  4. The more things change,the more they stay the same! Accept the fact that UNLV is just a doormat for all the opponents to wipe their feet on and move on!

  5. I have a great idea.. Since Hauck is doing such a great job and every fan here expect for a few see whats really going on, lets just give Hauck a raise and just bury the program now!

  6. Bobby no more excuses please!
    Losing to NAU and Southern Utah and only winning 1 game this year is really tough to swallow. Bobby has had three years now and only has produce 5 Wins. Performance and Results are just not there and it time to evaluated if the Rebels are just a 2 or 3 win team in Football and settle for poor record year in and year out. L. Tech next week will beat the Rebels by over 3 touchdowns. Down the road I see the Rebels only winning maybe 2 games. CSU, New Mexico- Wyoming maybe Hawaii. The DB's are weak and passing teams will have an easy time picking apart our DB's. Utah State and WSU clearly showed how leak our DB's are. Special Teams and dumb mistakes comes down to coaching and Bobby needs to take full responsibility.

    Most FCS schools would not tolerate 5 Wins in three years.... Accountability vs Results. I see improvement but NO Wins.... Coming close does not count.

    I think UNLV would struggle in the Big Sky Conference. Southern Utah and NAU proved this already. Maybe UNLV should take a step back in Football and either enter the Big Sky Conference or evaluate the Money and go as an independent, like BYU.

  7. bobthebuilder; More educated poster?

    I would think that a more educated person who hates the university and the football team as you do would not waste their intellect on even posting here. Kind of makes you look foolish and not too bright.

    As for the game, again we continue to get killed by our own stupid penalties. Does this coaching staff even discuss this with the team? This is the responsibility of the coaching staff to get these penalties under control! Have the players who commit these penalties run gassers or something, please!

  8. Another game same result

    Not a good sign

  9. Hey TDUNLV, why don't you wait until the end of year 3 before you start tallying up the wins for year 3...

    I agree that they missed some good opportunities at the beginning of the year though.

    Also, the MWC is the only place for this program as long as b-ball wants to stay relevant and the football program stays at it's level. Based on your comments, you more than anyone should not want to cater to the football team by moving to a lesser conference.

    FYI - Utah St. is in year FIVE of their rebuilding project.

  10. Sounds like lot of people here just hate UNLV and probably Las Vegas too, probably had to transfer here because of a job. Not saying Hauck is great,but we have had one coach after another. Big money not there to hire Vince Lombardi and yes Sam Boyd Stadium does not help. Stuck with Hauck for two more years-but there is gradual improvement here. Had there not been loss to NAU, think there would be lot more positive comments.

  11. Whomever gave Hauk an extension last year should be fired. We're stuck with a loser coach and a tough contract extension because of that idiot. I'm an Alumnus and lived in Las Vegas most of my life. I love my school & city and hate it when we continue to hire losers for this program. I'm watching Rich Rod (U of A) and Mike Leach (Washington St) doing wonders for those programs. Both coaches, especially Leach, should have been contacted.....but we're so screwed up, we didn't even try.

  12. REBEL coaches, commentators keep saying run ball to take pressure off Sherry. He's had 5 games now, he has experience.Time to throw on 1st down & not be so predictable.Look at Drew brees, Arron Rogers,etc,,they throw on 1st down.Nothing to loose..put pressure on Sherry let him throw.He's thrown some bad ones but few.Passes have been dropped but that's declining.New wave of college football is throw if got a thrower.Put big points on board quick....

  13. UNLV loses on the road as a 21 point underdog and "educated" people are calling for the head of a coach that makes basically minimum wage by D1 coach standards. Hah, give us a break.

    Has Hauck produced in terms of wins and losses? Absolutely not. But he has turned a team in complete disarray into something that at least appears to be heading in the right direction. Unless there is a huge donation made that allows UNLV to bring in a big name coach, then there's no reason to not let Hauck at least finish his contract. No coach as ended with a winning record at UNLV in decades, so all this "we have to win now" mentality is pretty laughable.

  14. Right on UNLV-123...Hauck needs to finish term..This is his team & they are all freshmen.Lets see these freshmen as seniors.Albeit need offensive minded coach...Hauch's past is defense. Look at Singeltary for 49ers in past vs Harbaugh now. Need strong passing...Pass Pass Pass.

  15. Mike Leach and Rich Rodriguez? Really!?!? Not that the wouldn't be great hires, but let's look at reality:

    Rich Rodriguez - Base Salary: $1.45 Million
    Mike Leach - Base Salary: $2.00 Million
    Bobby Hauck - Base Salary: $350,000

    There is no way the university could have come up with the money to pay them what it would have taken to bring one of them to Vegas. Maybe they did contact one or both of them. I bet the conversation went something like this:

    Jim Livengood: "Hey Coach. This is Jim Livengood calling from UNLV about our football ::click:: hello? Hello?"

    Unless there is some booster out there willing to put up a few million bucks annually to hire a "name" coach, I don't know what people are hoping for. If we fire Hauck, we can more than likely only afford to bring in another inexperienced guy to take over, which starts the whole process over.

    I'm no Hauck apologist either. You'll notice I didn't come in here talking mess after the Air Force victory because it is just one win against a team that we match up well against mostly because they can't throw the ball.

    The team discipline has to get better, our pass D is a joke and the offensive play-calling needs to be much better. But... the offensive line is looking better, I don't hate our front 7 on D and I like the fact that we appear to have a very solid QB for the next 3 years in Nick Sherry.

    If I really, truly thought that there were some super candidate out there with the resume to come in and build the program up and all that jazz that would also work for what we'd be paying them, I'd be all for it. I just don't know that that guy is out there. So given the circumstances, and the fact that we are at least seeing some improvement, I'm of the opinion that Hauck finish out his contract and we go from there.

  16. @UNLV-123, @Mike Lange - That type of losing attitude is EXACTLY what I'm talking about. In order to change a program, you need to change the outlook on how you approach the organization. Both of your comments are the reasons why we suck....because the fan base isn't demanding that we change. Would it cost beaucoup $$$ to get a good coach? Of course! You get what you pay for! I view it as an investment.....in the future of UNLV and they payoff is in years 2+ after getting a good coach. The payoff comes in quality recruits, increased wins, lower bowl games, and playing better teams....all of which generates more $ and will provide a positive ROI in the long term. How did Boise State all of a sudden not only become a winning school, but a BCS contender? How? 5-7 yrs ago, they were nothing more than a doormat, just like UNLV.

    Where there's a will, there's a way. Unfortunately, most UNLV fans are like you 2.....no will, so you see no way to make it happen. It's sad, that's why I don't like hanging out with other alumni/fans that are homers....instead of holding the school/program/coach accountable for their crappy performance, you allow them to make excuses and talk about moderate "improvement"...whatever. It's laughable to hear your arguments on how Hauck has improved this team/program....he hasn't done S__T!

  17. @Sinatra well said.. It's just a shame that these homers will never wake up and see that. Also to add to there complaints about money issues, UNLV's athletic programs money comes from a different account then the general funds for the rest of the school. The school can afford a better coach, they just choose not too.

  18. Mike, you are right it is up to the boosters to come up with the jack to pay a good coach. And whose job would that be Mike? Perhaps the AD? I mean it's not like we don't have boosters donating more than enough money to the hoops program. The Mendenhall facility is gorgeous. Don't give me the 'we don't have enough money to hire a good football coach at UNLV' garbage, there is PLENTY of money in this town for the AD to go after. The problem is, all the money goes to the program that wins. Livengood is great at balancing AD budgets and wanted to look like a genius by hiring a successful coach on the cheap. Fair enough, but looking like a huge mistake. I think the boosters were sufficiently fed up after Sanford and he could have gotten the money to hire a better coach. Even Livengood called it 'the most important hire in UNLV football history'. That's how he sold it to the public, but I don't get the feeling he gave the same sales pitch to the boosters. The money is out there Mike, it's the ADs job to go get it for the football program.

  19. Forget about money for the coaches......who's going to reimburse me for my broken radio that inexplicably flew across the room when we, once again, shot ourselves in the foot?

    That lack of discipline is on Hauck!

  20. @Sinatra

    What you're saying is not wrong... Obviously it would be great to bring in a big name coach and pump money into the program as an "investment". It sounds really great when you state it so simply.

    Unfortunately, it's just not a realistic proposition right now. WANTING to change the program, and ranting about it on the internet to "keep the school/program/coach accountable", does not actually equate to change. Even if you had a big name head coach come in, I'm not sure anything would change until they build the new stadium on campus and get people excited about tailgating and going to the games, while also being able to attract better recruits.

    Right now the Rebels have only a handful of Juniors and Seniors starting, so obviously you're going to see stupid mistakes and lack of discipline. But, if you've watched the games, you've seen that the Rebels have been competitive in all of them, even the one against Utah State, which was definitely winnable at halftime. They could easily be 4-1 or at least 3-2 this year, and I think we'll see the wins start coming this, and next, season. That's why I think it's a prudent move to keep Hauck around at least until his contract expires.

    If they build a new stadium and people become serious about investing in football, THEN maybe you'll see the program turn into a winner. Something it hasn't been in a lot of our lifetimes.

  21. There is some great "Back & forth" going on here with the posts.

    One thing I think everyone will agree on is the desire to see the football program succeed. There are great points on both sides. That shows the passion for wanting a winning footbal program here. Unfortunately, our numbers are very few. I have never understood the lack of interest in this football program throughout all the years I have been involved with it and watching from the sidelines. Regardless of how successful our basketball team is, football is far more important to me and I think everyone in this town should understand how important it is to have a successful football program.
    I think one of the reasons the president and the AD were hired was to bring in top notch athletic teams to this university. Hiring Coach Rice has paid off big time after only 1 year, based on the recruiting classes he has brought in.

    How about Coach Hauck? Despite what some people say, at the time he was hired he was considered one of the top head coach prospects out there.

    Has he been a failure? Still a little too soon in my opinion. He has only had 2 years. I gave him a pass on the first year because of his late hire and the fact that we had an impossible schedule to deal with. Fast forward to today. Are there improvements? Yes, in some areas. We finally got a great quarterback in Sherry but he is only a freshman. Despite the lack of patience from a lot of you, he is just a kid and has to grow. He seems to have gotten better with each game. The team is bigger and they are faster. That is another positive sign.

    The negatives are the lack of disclipline and the poor play calling, which has actually gotten a little better the last 2 games. The defensive secondary needs a lot of help in the recruiting department.

    The way I see it now we should beat Colorado State, Wyoming and New Mexico. That would get us 4 wins, double what we had the past 2 years and the coach keeps the job for a crucial next season. I know a lot of you think that is unacceptable but I guarantee you that the AD and the president will be happy with that progression.

    If you are not happy with that then the only alternative is to pass the hat around and buy out Haucks contract. Think that can't be done? Look at what Nebraska did when they got fed up with Callahan after 3 years. The boosters paid him a few million to make him leave. All of the big programs do that. Sorry folks, but I don't see a whole lot of money being brought in to buy out the coach. The university would look very bad in paying him off and then we go back to square one.

    So until the season is over I have to wait. We all do. I know the president and the AD are as well. In the mean time we should at least support the kids on the team. Isn't that what it is all about anyway?

  22. If you are watching the games you can clearly see that this team is improving and more importantly, they are playing for their coach. Despite the losses, you see a fight in these guys that finally paid off against Air Force. Air Force was the better team, but UNLV wanted it more.

    It's gonna be ugly for the next 4 weeks too. So get ready for the haters. LA Tech, Nevada, Boise St., and SDSU are all gonna be tough to win. If they play with heart maybe we get an upset in one of those games, but I'm being very optimistic in saying that.

    I agree with mike and UNLV-123, but JahReb makes a good point. With so much money going to the basketball program (13 million mendenhall center) football should get a bigger piece if we want to get better facilities and better recruits. The AD is a big part of that. If Hauck can pull off a bowl season next year. I think it would have been worth it, considering we haven't been to one since 2000. If not it may be time to start looking elsewhere.